Europe's Uprising Against GMOs and Patents on Life

ISIS Report 25/05/09

The unstoppable groundswell of opposition to GMOs in Europe

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

The recent call for a moratorium on GMOs in Europe [1] (see Europe Holds the Key to a GM-Free World, 5th Conference of GM-Free Regions, Food & Democracy, SiS 43) reflects an unstoppable groundswell of opposition to GMOs from both European citizens and governments.

An online poll [2] on the question: “Should GMOs be banned in Europe?” conducted in April 2009 returned a 79 percent yes, 18 percent no and 3 percent don’t know. Days earlier, Germany outlawed the cultivation of Monsanto’s GM maize MON810, a surprising move that delighted campaigners. Germany became the sixth EU country to introduce a provisional ban on the GM maize, after France, Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg and Greece [3]. A source close to the EC said the German ban might bring a revision of the European legislation on GM crops. Germany also voted with the majority in March when the European Commission (EC) attempted to force Austria and Hungary to reverse their bans, and its ruling was overturned by a big majority [1].

Ban by Germany the tipping point

Germany’s move was broadly welcomed by its news media [4]. German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner said she had legitimate reasons to believe that MON 810, posed “a danger to the environment,” a position which she said the Environment Ministry also supported. Aigner is taking advantage of a clause in EU law which allows individual countries to impose such bans. The left-wing Frankfurter Rundschau wrote: “Genetically modified corn is a risk to our environment, is totally superfluous in farming, represents industrial agriculture, causes pointless costs to food production in Germany and can even ruin beekeepers.” The left-wing Berliner Zeitung wroes: “The new studies don't show any new risks - they simply prove that the old warning about the risks was justified. It's a scandal that the subsequent ban was even necessary because the farming of genetically modified plants had been permitted without a thorough examination of all the possible dangers.”

Germany, the most populous country in the European Union
(EU) ranking fourth in land area, is also its most influential and economically powerful member nation. Monsanto applied for an emergency ruling to overturn the ban to allow for its 2009 planting [5], saying its ban is arbitrary and goes against EU regulations.

But the court in Braunschweig in north Germany rejected Monsanto’s application [6]. Significantly, a statement from the court said Germany’s law on GMOs does not require that a ban on a new plant variety is justified by proven scientific research which showed without doubt the crop to be dangerous; it was sufficient when research showed there were indications that the crop could be dangerous.

Read the rest of this article here
//www.i-sis.org.uk/EuropesUprisingAgainstGMOs.php



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